For future Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, his return to the NFL after a year away has been largely a good experience despite the fact that he's not a primary target on a team that hasn't thrown the ball much.
Through 13 games, Moss has 21 catches for 326 yards and a pair of scores. On Sunday, he'll return to Foxborough, Mass., to play against a coach, Bill Belichick, who had a hand in molding him into one of the all-time greats.
"I've learned a lot from Bill Belichick," Moss said. "I've said time and time again, before I got to New England, I thought I knew a lot about football. But I think he taught me a lot from A to Z. I still carry it to this day."
At 35 years old, Moss isn't the player who caught 50 touchdown passes in 52 regular-season games with the Patriots, but Belichick doesn't necessarily see it that way.
"I think Randy looks like Randy," Belichick said. "He's the greatest deep-ball receiver I think that's ever played. Nobody runs better patterns or has a better feel over the deep part of the field like Randy Moss. I still see him doing that."
San Francisco still uses Moss on deep routes -- most recently on a flea-flicker against Miami -- but his biggest value might be with what he's been able to contribute in helping develop the team's other receivers. Moss is constantly asking questions to the coaching staff and fielding questions from the team's talented stable of younger players.
"He's very smart, one of the best to play the game at that position. He's a real joy to be around," San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Asks great questions. I think it shows up there most of all and then the things he shares with the other receivers and quarterbacks. You see him talking to running backs. It's pretty neat."
Belichick called him "the smartest receiver I've ever coached."
Carlos Rogers said the defensive backs would try to tap into Moss' knowledge of the New England offense this week to help prepare for Sunday's prime-time matchup, but Moss said he didn't think he could be much help as the Patriots' offense is always changing. This year, the team has prioritized running the ball and ranks No. 7 in the NFL.
"Everybody knows that Bill Belichick is a so-called genius," Moss said. "He changes it up every week so there's not really much input that I can give for the week. I just said, you know, have your head on a swivel and be ready for anything."